M A I N   N E W S

150 killed in Pak quake
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

About 150 persons were killed and nearly 300 were injured in a high intensity earthquake that shook the southwestern parts of the Balochistan province.

The area was hit by three major tremors during the day, the first occurring early morning and doing the main damage though the second in the afternoon was more powerful of 6.4 magnitude. Ziarat district was worst affected area. Private sources put the casualty at more that 210 dead and nearly 400 wounded. Most deaths occurred due to landslides caused by the quake.

Officials said the damage was restricted and insisted that the government would deal with the situation on its own and may not need any external assistance. The lower losses were attributed to the fact that most of the people had already come out of their houses after the first shock and people largely live in mud ramparts that also reduced the extent of human and property damage.

Rescue and relief operations centred on the better equipped army assisted by the para-military Frontier Constabulary, Pakistan Air Force and civil administration and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Major General Salim Gilani, director general Frontier Corps Balochistan, put the death toll at 142 with 257 wounded. About 27,000 Persons have been displaced.

He said the army and the FC teams have spread all over the affected areas and provided necessary assistance, including food, blankets and tents.

Twelve helicptors have worked throughout the day in areas inaccessible through roads to distribute relief goods and lift seriously wounded.

Lt Gen Farooq Ahmed, chief of National Disaster Management told mediapersons here the country had enough resources to meet the present emergency. The government assured full support to the least developed province of the country and announced Rs 300,00 for family of each dead on behalf of the Prime Minister and 100,00 from the presidential fund. The Punjab government announced immediately assistance of Rs 100 million, Sindh Rs 70 million and the NWFP Rs 10 million.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani announced that his government would provide all possible aid to the affected people.



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